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Media Release Fr 20.02.2015

Statement of the Kunstmuseum Bern, in agreement with the relevant German authorities, on the restitution of artworks from the Gurlitt Art Collection

By signing the agreement, the Kunstmuseum Bern relinquished any entitlement to pictures suspected of being looted art as early as November 24, 2014. This is also true for the picture Seated Woman by Henri Matisse. Since then, the BKM (the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media), in agreement with the KMB, is endeavoring to obtain the necessary evidence of the claimant’s entitlement to restitutions from the attorneys representing the Rosenberg family. What has been submitted to date falls short of the requirements—just as in the cases of the two other restitutions that have been assented to. The necessary documents for proving entitlement to inherit of individual members of the respective community of heirs have been requested several times, accompanied by necessary explanations both in writing and orally. Mr. Marinello, the legal representative of the Rosenberg heirs, sent documents proving entitlement to inherit to the BKM with a letter dated January 23, 2015, and on February 14, 2015, agreed to send the missing documents and evidence at a later date.

In addition, now that Mrs. Uta Werner is contesting the will, restitution can only be arranged in agreement with the executor appointed by the probate court in Munich, who must consider the interests of all the possible heirs (legal heirs and the KMB). And, as long as the curatorship of the estate lasts, will probably also obtain the required approval of the probate court. To the best of our knowledge, the BKM is currently settling a restitution agreement with the executor on both the Matisse and the Liebermann paintings—of which the claimants have been informed. This will require additional time. For these two reasons no restitution has been possible as yet.

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